Women Hunters/New Hunters Making Headlines

February 27, 2014

It’s hardly like news anymore, it seems, to see a (relatively) positive piece in a major news outlet about hunting.  Between “locavores” and “hipsters”, or youngsters and women, there’s been a steady stream of press over the past couple of years that would suggest a swelling of the hunting community by a host of non-traditional participants.

For my own part, I haven’t had a whole lot to say about the “phenomenon”.  On the one hand, I certainly do relish the thought that more new hunters means more political and economic clout for our community.  Likewise, I am cheered by the fact that we’re seeing a largely positive spin on hunting.    These new participants tend to bring with them a strong ethic with a practical perspective (healthy food and a renewed relationship with our role in nature) and this plays well with the non-hunting public.  It’s no secret that the best way to counter the lies and myths of the anti-hunting propaganda machine is to get our real stories into the popular press… let non-hunters read about hunters who aren’t poachers or drunken oafs.

But there’s a flip side.  Even as these bright-eyed neophytes come into the sport (and the press) with professions of high ethical ideals, the spotlight that follows them also shines into the darker corners, threatening to illuminate the reality that all hunters don’t hold to the same, high, ethical standards.  That’s not to say that the “old guard” is a bunch of scofflaws or heartless killers, but it is fair to say that we’re not all in this for the same reasons… we don’t all eat what we kill, we don’t all agree on the concepts of “sportsmanship” or definitions of “fair chase”, and all of us don’t see the kill as some particularly sanctified event (sometimes it feels like a damned inconvenient part of the whole experience, to be honest).

It’s a weird sort of conflict, no matter how you think about it.  All this time we’ve wanted positive press, and now there’s a chance that the lights might shine a little too brightly on the contrast between lofty, ethical ideals and a sometimes, harsh reality.  How do we reconcile this… or do we even try?




2 Responses to “Women Hunters/New Hunters Making Headlines”

  1. robb on March 6th, 2014 17:26

    My only complaint is that being new they often haven’t been exposed to styles outside of their own circle of hunting peers. I’ve found that the longer I hunt, and the more people from different backgrounds and geographic areas, the more styles I’m accepting of. Not that I want to adapt my own style to match all that I accept, only that others might choose to hunt differently than I do, and that’s ok.

    I sometimes read interviews with hipsters who give interviewers the answers they are looking for, the interviewers often being non hunters, and the hipsters will invalidate another style or ethical view that if they had enough experience they might well have a broader concept of what is acceptable. I’m thinking of cougar, bear, wolf, or coyote hunting for instance.

    I still take a very dim view of high fence hunting, to use an example, but I no longer publicly make statements denigrating the practice. It’s not for me, but I won’t criticize it. I wish everyone would take such an expansive view while writing for publications or giving interviews.

  2. Phillip on March 7th, 2014 08:40

    Robb, I think that’s the sort of concern I have as well. I think a lot of times someone new to the sport is particularly susceptible to suggestions about how it “should” be, and then they tend to view all other hunters through that filter. When they are interviewed (as the “hot new thing” they tend to get interviewed a lot these days), they speak through that same filter and it’s not always very complementary to the overall hunting population. I guess that’s pretty much what I was getting at in the post.

    Of course, it’s certainly not just the neophyte Nimrod that falls victim to geographically induced prejudice. You can visit almost any hunting discussion board or forum and find heated (sometimes practically violent) arguments about hunting methods… and almost every one of them is rooted in different geographic locations. For example, western big game hunters with access to millions of acres of public wilderness and widely distributed game populations often view the concept of hunting from a tree stand over bait with disdain. The Mainer who tracks his deer through the snow sneers at the Carolinian who loves the sound of a pack of beagles and blue ticks on a hot track. And so on…

    I’d also say the majority of these disagreements are based on pure ignorance. In my experience, the strongest detractors have seldom (if ever) experienced the type of hunt they vilify. They seldom know or understand the differences in terrain, social attitudes, or even legal considerations that drive hunting methods and means.

    Of course, the other part of it is that weird quirk of human nature that makes it so difficult to recognize that we can’t expect other people to conform to our own, personal values… no matter how self-righteous we may feel about them.

    Your own attitude sounds similar to mine, in that I’m not going to concern myself if someone hunts with a method I, personally, don’t care for. As long as the resource isn’t being harmed, and the method is safe for other people and property, I have a hard time being too critical (with some, notable exceptions).